Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I wasn't sure what to share today until I came across a blog post about L-cysteine. You should recognize that word if you read the ingredients in your packaged foods. L-cysteine is an amino acid that our body creates. When pulled out of protein sources, it becomes a dough enhancer and flavor additive.
The problem - well 2 things really: the source and the process to remove it. L-cysteine is pulled out of hair and hooves. In some cases, the hair was recycled from barber shops (yes I am talking human hair). In other cases it was removed from left over duck feathers and hair from pigs or cows.
For those who believe in eating the whole animal or reducing waste, this sounds like a good idea. Did to me, a little. Why not use something that is just waste, even though it sounds unpleasant.
The big problem - it's not easy to remove the amino acid from the protein. Think back to high school science - an amino acid is a building block for protein. Essentially, they have to break down the protein to remove the L-cysteine.
In doing the research, I discovered that L-cysteine is a popular supplement as well.
Hmm - that makes me wonder. Our bodies make L-cysteine so we don't need it from outside sources so why would we take the supplements. L-cysteine is also found in high protein foods.
A quick search says that L-cysteine is good for athletes and bodybuilders.
I'm still not making the connection - maybe I'm not well versed but it would stand to reason that if you are someone who needs L-cysteine then you would just eat extra lean proteins. That way you are getting it from a natural source.
Personally, I can't move away from the original source of L-cysteine. It's just too gross and knowing that they have to chemically alter the hair and feathers to make the additive/supplement really grosses me out.
Add to that - they've discovered how to make an artificial L-cysteine as a food additive. Why do we need an artificial version of something that we can get naturally? We don't need L-cysteine in our non-protein foods. I know that it doesn't really make the food taste better but maybe it covers up those off flavors of eating artificial ingredients. I don't know but what I do know is the list I have of ingredients I want to avoid just gets longer everyday.

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